In the dark basement boiler room of the Concord Hotel, a man slowly regains consciousness and finds himself strapped to a chair. His eyes dart around the room.
Beads of sweat begin to accumulate on his face as his eyes settle on a dark figure sitting across the room. The figure, a man whose face is hidden by a dark, hooded jacket, approaches.
"Please," the man begs through the gag muffling his pleas.
The dark man comes closer, his eyes focusing on his victim with a menacing glare. He won't offer any mercy.
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The scene played out last week in the basement boiler room of the historic hotel on Union Street was the opening scene of "A Box for Rob," a murder mystery being filmed in Concord.
Concord has become a movie set as filmmakers began shooting around the city earlier this month. Cameras will stop rolling in early June, and producers hope to finish editing by September. Then the movie will tour film festivals.
The story centers on childhood friends Rob and Miles. Rob is returning to town and moving into his childhood home in Concord when a series of murders shake up the town.
"Rob is living with a lot of guilt and dealing with it the best he can," said Mark Scarboro of Cornelius, the actor playing the role of Rob. "His secrets come to the surface over the course of the film."
Brett Gentile, 36, of Rock Hill, S.C., plays Miles.
Miles is an upbeat, goofy guy, said Gentile, who has acted in several films, including "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps," starring Nicolas Cage.
"There's something about Miles you can't quite put your finger on," he said.
Locals in as extras
Many locals have been cast as extras in the film, including Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton.
"I thought, 'This is my big break,'" Hamilton said, joking. "This is my second career coming up."
The role of police chief was already taken, but Hamilton will play a detective milling around in the background of a crime scene.
"That's the extent of my Hollywood career," he said.
The Concord Police Department has lent filmmakers spare uniforms and police cars to park on streets for scenes shot around the city. Uniformed police officers will also serve as extras, and the department will turn over its briefing room for a day for filming.
You'll recognize ...
The film's camera crew has been filming at local restaurants, downtown streets and a historic home on Union Street.
It's a long process. The crew spends hours setting up and filming shots that could last only a few minutes - or seconds.
A handful of people stopped to watch the flurry of activity at a closed-down Mexican restaurant on Cabarrus Avenue as the crew recently set up their camera equipment.
Crew members angled their cameras just so as members of the wardrobe team used colored deodorant-looking sticks - it's called schmear, they said - to dirty up an apron worn by a young woman playing a waitress.
Carlos Garcia of Concord stopped on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to watch.
"I want to see how they shoot it, how they make it," he said as he stood behind the cameras and the crew filmed a car pulling into the parking lot.
Need small-town feel
Producer Michael Davis said filmmakers chose Concord for the movie setting because of its vibrant downtown atmosphere, its small-town feel and support from residents and local officials.
"This town has been phenomenal," said Davis, who works with Uptone Pictures, the Wake Forest-based entertainment company producing the independent film.
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said he received an e-mail earlier this year from Davis about the possibility of using Concord as the set for the movie.
Davis met with city officials and gave copies of the script to Padgett and city council members, who gave filmmakers the OK to use Concord's name in the film.
Padgett said the filming will have an economic impact in Concord.
"They're using local caterers and local hotels," he said. "They're spending all their money right here."
Padgett said there's a possibility he'll be part of the movie. He might be part of the crowd in an upcoming scene.
"This won't exactly be my big break," he said.